Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Students Need the Truth: Campus Safety must notify students of crimes around them

Courtesy of Tony WebsterTwo shootings and two attempted armed robberies were reported in the past week near campus.

It’s become a tradition none of us have asked for: Every few weeks, The Phoenix reports on instances of crime around Loyola — crimes campus police didn’t notify students about. 

Less than one year ago, The Phoenix reported on numerous crimes near the Lake Shore area of which campus police failed to alert students. We followed our reporting by calling for more transparency or, at the very least, more honesty from the administration and Campus Safety — Loyola’s private police force.

It appears our concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

Last week, a Loyola student was brutally attacked, knocked to ground, robbed and left shaken late at night. The incident occurred just off Devon Avenue, a street on which hundreds of Loyola students live. 

A crime as brutal as this would certainly require a notification to students for their own safety, and yet, despite the fact that both Campus Safety and Chicago Police responded to the incident, the students weren’t notified. 

Crimes in the area are usually reported to the students if there is a clear and “ongoing” threat to them by the perpetrators. Those who attacked the student still aren’t caught — this would no doubt constitute a clear and ongoing threat. There’s simply no excuse for why Loyola chose not to notify the student body. 

The general assumption of Loyola’s student body is that it’s the job of Campus Safety to protect them from crime in Rogers Park and on campus. Part of that protection includes being notified of incidents of crime around their campus.  And yet, Loyola’s police have fallen short of that obligation, as they have quietly hidden dozens of crimes around the neighborhood by not reporting them to the students.

 In the past, Loyola’s excuse has been they don’t want to desensitize students to crime by sending out too many crime notifications, as it could potentially lead to them being ignored. But there’s a clear difference between sending out only an occasional crime notification for the most serious incidents and not sending any at all. 

Loyola is in Chicago, a large city known for its crime and violence. While Rogers Park is a relatively safe neighborhood when compared to other areas of the city, the students who live and learn at the Lake Shore Campus are still in danger of being victims of a crime every time they walk alone at night. 

But that danger is only compounded by the fact that Campus Safety doesn’t notify students of what’s happening around them. 

Information leads to security. But when that information isn’t given, Campus Police is taking away that security from the students it’s tasked with protecting.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a new phenomenon; time and time again, there’s been a persistent lack of communication between Loyola students and Campus Safety. When The Phoenix analyzed five years of data regarding crime in the area around Loyola, it found that only 60 of roughly 1,000 incidents of crime were shared by both departments’ records. 

That isn’t to say Loyola students don’t have their own avenues of finding out about these crimes, as they can still look through Chicago Police Department’s police logs for Rogers Park and attend community meetings on crime and safety in the neighborhood. And until Campus Safety steps up its security, we encourage students to look for information for their own safety. 

But the fact that students have to look for information  which should have been provided to them by Campus Safety on their own highlights the underlying problem. Campus Safety isn’t doing its job, and in turn, the students are forced to fill the gaps left by them.

It isn’t the job of the students to scrutinize police records, attend community meetings and hunt down information for their own safety while at the same time attend class, study, participate in extracurriculars and prepare for life after graduation. 

Unfortunately, unless there’s more transparency from Campus Safety, as Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney’s Independent Review Task Force has recommended, and more openness with their communication, this problem will continue to persist. And the responsibility to inform, part of Campus Safety’s job,  will still fall on the students.

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